On Tuesday, hedge fund billionaire and climate change activist Tom Steyer announced his candidacy for president in 2020, six months after saying he would sit out the race. He launched his campaign with a video demonizing “corporations” and pledging to “take away the paid opposition” that hinders Democratic “progress.”
Adopting the tone of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and aiming to cater to the “forgotten men and women” who voted for Donald Trump, Steyer begins his video by saying, “I think people believe that the corporations have bought the democracy, that the politicians don’t care about or respect them — don’t put them first, are not working for them but are actually working for the people who have rigged the system.”
Steyer describes his childhood — growing up “in the middle of the Civil Rights revolution and the Vietnam War,” with a father who assisted the chief prosecutor in the Nuremberg War Crimes trials after World War II. He recounts that he and his wife signed the Giving Pledge, “which is a promise to give away half of your wealth while you’re alive to good causes.”
Supposedly having established his credibility, Steyer delves into the evil behind all the failures of American politics — those big bad “corporations.”
“We have a society that’s very unequal and it’s really important for people to understand that this society is connected,” he says, as images of Donald Trump Jr. and Jeffrey Epstein flash across the screen. “If this is a Banana Republic with a few very very rich people and everybody else living in misery – that’s a failure.”
Specifically, Steyer demonizes the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), which infamously ruled that “corporations” are “people” and therefore have free speech rights in politics. Yet this definition of “corporations” is legal — it means a group of people, including unions and political interest groups, not the kind of “corporations” people think of.
Cynical liberal politicians like Steyer have a long history of abusing the Citizens United case by making it sound like a corporate takeover of American politics. In reality, that decision allowed groups of individual people to join together and spend money to publish books, pamphlets, or video ads on political issues. It allowed for more free speech in politics, not a corporate takeover.
Yet, showing a picture of Mitt Romney (evoking Bain Capital), Steyer declares, “The lawyers have basically gotten the Supreme Court to say that corporations are people and therefore they have all the rights in the Constitution given to people. Now obviously corporations don’t have hearts, or souls, or futures. They don’t have children. They have a short time frame and they really care about just making money. If you give them the unlimited ability to participate in politics, it will skew everything because they only care about profits.”
“You know, you look at climate change. That is people who are saying, ‘we’d rather make money than save the world.’ That’s an amazing statement, and it’s happening today. And there are politicians supporting that,” Steyer, a longtime environmental activist, says.
Of course, this is liberal gaslighting. Sadly, professional climate scientists have rushed to champion the narrative that manmade global warming threatens the world, despite the fact that climate alarmists have failed to predict future temperatures. In one hilarious case, alarmists predicted that the Maldives Islands would sink beneath the waves in 2018. The islands are still there, and have even grown in recent years! Yet scientists who dissent from the alarmist narrative are often silenced and pushed out of their positions.
Steyer has poured millions of dollars into the climate change issue, founding the NextGen Climate super PAC (now called NextGen America), which contributed about $74 million to Democratic causes in the 2014 midterms.
Yet despite Steyer’s activism, he made his money promoting fossil fuels, private prisons, and subprime lending. Farallon Capital, the hedge fund Steyer founded and which vaulted him to wealth, has pumped hundreds of millions into coal mines and coal power plants, The New York Times reported in 2014. Steyer sold his ownership stake in 2012 but has not cut ties completely.
Mentioning drug overdoses and “banks screwing people on their mortgages,” Steyer makes the ridiculous claim that “Almost every single major intractable problem, at the back of it you see a big money interest for whom stopping progress, stopping justice, is really important to their bottom line.” While he says this, a picture of President Trump signing a bill flashes across the screen.
Steyer suggests that “corporate” control of Washington, D.C. is the real source of political partisanship and gridlock. “You’ve got to take the corporate control out of our politics. All these issues go away when you take away the paid opposition from corporations who make trillions of extra dollars by controlling our political system.”
This is ludicrous. Americans should know that the real cause of bitter partisanship is honest disagreement on a whole host of issues, coupled with the tragic demonization of dissent. Steyer himself is making the problem worse by suggesting some bogeymen in boardrooms are behind opposition to liberal “progress” on climate change, racial issues, and more.
What Steyer’s video is really attempting to do is demonize the right into silence. He’s trying to appeal to angry voters and convince them that the only reason the far left has not fundamentally remade America is those pesky evil corporations. That is simply not the case.
In fact, in 2016, Hillary Clinton received far more money than Donald Trump did. If “dark money” or “corporations” were the real force behind American politics, Trump would not be president.
Yet this campaign launch video is far from the first time Steyer has gone to absurd lengths to demand political change. He has long advocated for Trump’s impeachment, organizing eight million members for a Need to Impeach campaign. Far more worrying, he has mused about the need for a “nuclear war” to provide a “real course correction” to Trump’s presidency.
“I remember 2006,” Steyer told Rolling Stone last summer. “What happened is that George W. Bush, he put us in two disastrous wars and we were headed toward the biggest financial disaster since the Great Depression. So if the answer is that we need those three things to happen for a course correction, I’d prefer to move a little quicker. How about that? But I take your point. Maybe we can have, like, a nuclear war and then we get a real course correction.”
Tom Steyer is a radical environmentalist activist so set on “a real course correction” that he will demonize conservatives as pawns of some evil “corporations” and may even stomach the idea of a nuclear war.
Steyer may have entered the Democratic race late, but he has the money and the network to make a real splash. It seems unlikely he will prevail, but he will succeed in demonizing the right and making liberals ever more anxious for change at any price.
It’s true. I’m running for president. pic.twitter.com/u8x2lZah7Z
— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) July 9, 2019
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.